The physical set up began last week for the 14th annual Sistersville Marble Festival, but the process is one that takes many months according to festival founder and coordinator Jim King. He stated that the three-day festival occurring this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday along the streets of downtown Sistersville has a dedicated crew that lends their time each year, especially in the weeks leading up to the festival. As always, admission and space for vendors are free.
"Things have come together very well for this festival," said King. "It even looks like we'll have great weather all weekend."
A large turnout is projected to attend the festival, which reportedly grows each year. The gathering draws marble enthusiasts from all over the United States, and even some from Canada. Among locals and other Marble Fest familiars in attendance, a lot of new vendors and visitors are also expected.
A variety of activities, including marble-making demonstrations and a children’s marble tournament will be held during the three-day festival set for this weekend.
"We've had many requests from new vendors who would like to set up," said King.
In addition to new vendors, the festival will stand by its usual traditions, such as: marble-making demonstrations by world-renowned glass artists, a children's marble tournament, a marble auction, and streets lined with vendors willing to buy, trade, and sell marbles and flea market items. Food from local restaurants and festival vendors will keep people energized as they get caught up in the marble madness.
A main feature of Marble Fest has always been its commemorative marbles. Each year, the festival decides to honor someone or something different. In the past, the collectible marbles have depicted local landmarks and, at times, those who have made large contributions to the marble industry.
This year's limited edition marble, of which only 2,013 have been made, will be commemorating Sammy Hogue, who is known worldwide for his marble-making talents.
"Sammy has been kind enough for the last 10 years to provide his marble furnace and to entertain with his marble-making skills during the Sistersville Marble Festival," said King.
He went on to acknowledge the continuing help of Andy Davis.
"We want to give a special thanks to Andy, who provides the marble bases, as well as the large commemorative marble for the auction each year," he said.
Residents of Sistersville know that the festival is near when pictures of marbles colored by students from Sistersville Elementary School and A.I. Boreman start going up in storefront windows across town. Each year during the festival, a group of judges walk around and choose their favorite creation from each class. A first place picture is picked for grades pre-Kindergarten through fifth grade and the winners of the Design Your Own Marble Contest are presented with a collectible marble bag.
In this regard, children are celebrating the history of "marble mania" that swept the country in the early to mid-1900s. At one time there were more than 25 marble factories within a 60-mile radius of Sistersville. Today, only two factories remain: Marble King, located four miles north of Sistersville in Paden City, and the Jabo Vitro Marble Factory, located 25 miles south of Sistersville in lower Newport, Ohio.
The Sistersville Marble Festival seeks to honor this area's rich marble history while bringing it to present light. For more information, contact King at 304-652-4030.